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Balloonist Falls

Clyde Johnson of 1307 S. Madison Street in Bloomington was interviewed about the balloonist who fell onto his roof the previous evening. Mr. Johnson reported that Harry Gibbens actually hit under the cornice of the roof, knocking some paint off the wall and then struck the sidewalk with his head. Mr. Stauffer was a witness who actually saw the attempted jump and fall. He reported that Gibbens jumped from his balloon, but that his parachute did not open for quite a while. Mr. Gibbens was swinging back and forth wildly, which Mr. Stauffer assumed was his attempt to avoid landing on the house.

In Peoria a young woman had been jumping from a balloon at the Al Fresco Park but had been injured. Mr. Gibbens had been persuaded by the management of the Al Fresco Park in Peoria to dress as a girl and jump from the balloon.

The Al Fresco Park was established in 1905 and was an "amusement park" north of Peoria. (see this article from the Peoria Public Library: Excursions to the park could be made from Bloomington on a train and then by steamboat up the river. In 1919 a steamboat hit the Peoria shore in a dense fog and the ship sank almost immediately with over 450 people on board.

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